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Chronic Illness for the Recovering Perfectionist

Updated: Oct 23

Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming at times. It can feel like a constant battle to manage your symptoms and maintain a sense of normalcy. It's easy to become focused on the big picture, such as finding a cure or treating your illness, or finding ways to push through and maintain your standard level of productivity.

This is ESPECIALLY true if you are a recovering perfectionist and expert over-achiever. If you fit into this category, a term like "small wins" is likely foreign to you, and has never been part of your repertoire of skills, but sometimes it's the small wins that make all the difference.

Small wins are small victories or accomplishments that we achieve on a daily basis. They can be as simple as getting out of bed, taking a shower, or making a healthy meal.These small wins may seem insignificant to others, but for someone with a chronic illness, they can be huge milestones in their daily life.

One of the biggest challenges of living with a chronic illness is coping with the unpredictable nature of the illness. It can be difficult to plan ahead when you never know when your symptoms may flare up. Small wins can help you regain a sense of control over your life. By focusing on what you can do, rather than what you can't do, you can boost your self-esteem and improve your overall well-being.

When you have a chronic illness, some days you will feel like getting out of bed is climbing mount everest, the pain and exhaustion will stop you in your tracks, anc making a cup of tea will use the small energy reserve you were holding onto. On other days, maybe you can deep clean the house, go hiking with your kids, or jump.on your exercise bike and do a spin program. If you're able to notice early signs of what kind of day it is going to be, you're ahead of the game. Sometimes it will catch you off guard.

On those days, when you had plans to get stuff done and find out your body is going to protest, it is dishearteneing to have to adjust your expectations and accept that you will not get anything on that to-do list done. When you're used to overachieving, this can be an especially shameful and painful experience. This is where adding smaller tasks and accumulating small wins, crossing one small thing off your to do list, even just making a list to tackle later, can make a difference.

Here are some small wins that I have found helpful to include:

- Eating a balanced meal

- Taking medication on time

- Playing with the kids

- Finishing your coffee in the morning

- Practicing deep breathing or meditation

- Going for a short walk or a drive

- Making time for self-care, such as taking a bath or getting a massage

- Reaching out to a friend or loved one for support

- Getting out of the house, connecting with nature and the outside world (standing on your front step counts!)

Some days you will have to actively remind yourself that these little wins count, too, and are important because part of life as a recovering perfectionist is the almost constant battle

with your inner critic- you know, the one that tells you that whatever you have accomplished isn't enough because it isn't everything... But when you can focus on the small wins, it makes that inner critic a little quieter, and helps to feel like you are in the driver's seat of your life, NOT the illness.

Small wins may not cure your illness, but they can help you feel more in control of your life and give you a sense of accomplishment. By celebrating these small victories, you can improve your overall well-being and find joy in the little things.

What small wins can you celebrate today?

Until next time, remember, it's not about the destination, it's about the journey.

-Alana at Lunar Light

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